on the road

on the road

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Predator Friendly?

We've been seeing lots of coyotes around our sheep lately.  The proximity of these predators to our livelihood presents an ethical dilemma for me - I'm always thrilled at seeing local wildlife, but I always worry about the safety of our sheep.  Our friend and partner Ellen called last night, saying that she was a "poor shepherd" because she failed to run over a coyote on her drive back to the ranch.  We both agreed that we would have a hard time killing a predator unless it was actually killing a sheep.

If we didn't use guardian animals (dogs and llamas), I would not be able to say this.  I like to tell folks that we're predator friendly, but our guard dogs are not!  The exception to this, at least for me, is a domestic dog.  We've lost sheep to neighbor dogs, and I think I'd probably have a hard time NOT shooting a domestic dog that was chasing my livestock (even if it hadn't killed anything yet).  A domestic dog kills for sport; a coyote kills for sustenance.  That being said, I'm not sure what I'd do if I found a coyote in the act of killing a sheep.  Since I don't have a rifle with me at all times, the question is probably moot.

One of the things I love about my living is that I have a chance to interact with nature on a daily basis - indeed, I'm dependent on nature for my livelihood.  Success in this livelihood requires me to take the good with the bad.

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